Sikua calls for suspension of forest commissioner

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THE Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament, Hon Dr Derek Sikua is calling for the immediate suspension of the Commissioner of Forest for issuing a felling licence to log government land.

At the same time Mr Sikua said all machineries used in the illegal operation together with the logs extracted from the Komarigi Reserve should be seized by the State.

“There is sufficient evidence suggesting that a crime has been committed. I don’t know why the Police Commissioner is not responding to this matter. As far as I am concerned a prima facie case exists warranting immediate police intervention,” Sikua said.

But Wong Hook Ping, the man in the centre of the alleged illegal operation yesterday defended his company’s logging operations, saying “we have done nothing wrong”.

“I have done nothing illegal. We have fully complied with the requirements of the law in Solomon Islands,” Mr Wong told Island Sun in an exclusive in his office yesterday.

With him were the landowner trustees, including Peter Isaac, Aaron Devesi and Serapino Pero as well as a member of the Prime Minister’s Taskforce investigating the Komarigi Reserve logging operations. Several other landowners filled the company’s Ranadi front office, waiting for their payments.

Meanwhile Sikua said the taskforce set up by the Prime Minister “is a waste of time”.

“What the Prime Minister should have done is to ask the Public Service Commission to suspend the Commissioner of Forest immediately. At the same time, police should move in to take appropriate action.

“Those responsible for this act of theft must be arrested and charged,” Sikua said.

It was revealed earlier this week that Commissioner Moveni, had issued a felling licence to log registered land which is on a 75-year lease to the Government.

Documents obtained in the course of Island Sun newspaper the investigation show that Mbetilonga Landholdings Community Company Ltd and One Pacific Company Ltd have been logging the Reserve since April 23, 2015.

The illegal logging operation is said to have cost the government up to $30 million in lost revenue.

Sikua said this is a serious matter and appropriate action must be taken to discourage the repeat of such practice in the future.

“Once again, I repeat that the Commissioner of Forest must be suspended immediately. And secondly, police should the Forest Act to put a seizure order on the company’s machinery and the stockpile of logs extracted illegally from government land.

“Thirdly, I call on police to arrest and charge with theft those officers who were responsible for facilitating the illegal operations,” Sikua said.

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